Understanding Native English Speakers Who Speak Too Fast Ep 495

Photograph of a man looking confused. Join us, and discover tips, tricks and techniques while we learn how to better understand native English speakers who speak too fast

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How To Understand What Native English Speakers Are Saying When They Talk Too Fast In Every Day English Conversations

Today I will show you a common mistake students make when trying to understand English native speakers and also when they do the IELTS listening test. You are going to discover why learning to comprehend spoken English, listening to a language teacher, is simply not enough, and what you can do about it. Improve your English fluency today, listen to the Adept English podcast.

Native English speakers often use shortcuts to help say things faster in everyday English conversations. Depending on who you are talking to, native English speakers will use several language tricks to speed up what’s being said. This can make it really difficult for new English language learners to follow and understand what’s being said.

Native English speakers have a lot of tools to help them speed up what they want to say. You might hear brand names, slang, idioms or phrases that help express in less time what needs saying. We have lots of lessons on these topics and today we work on what is probably the most common cause for new English language students not understanding a native English speaker in an everyday conversation.

It may seem difficult at first, but once you understand what is going on, native English speakers are easier to understand than you think. After just a few weeks of listening practice, you’ll be amazed at how close you can come to understanding English like a native speaker. With the right strategies, your listening skills will improve dramatically. We’ll go over some different techniques to help you do this.

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 2 word phrases:

To Understand5
Ten Minutes4
The English3
Contract Words2
English Language2
We Speak2
Your English2
Native English2
Alright Then2

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: Understanding Native English Speakers Who Speak Too Fast

Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English.

Shall we have a look today at why native English can be so difficult to understand for English language learners? This is part of why there is such a gap between classroom English - the English you learn in your school or your adult language learning lesson - and the English that’s really spoken, normal conversation.

Big gap and that’s a problem! So let’s talk about why you might understand everything in your English lesson, but it’s much more difficult when you listen to native English speakers. It’s ‘Arghhhh!’ What are they doing at the English language which makes understanding it so hard?

Why is a ‘normal English conversation’ difficult to understand?

Let me start off today by giving you an example of how two English speaking friends or work colleagues might speak in an informal conversation.

  • ‘I’m gonna geda coffee - d’you wanna come with me?’
  • ‘Yeah, a’right then - that’d be a good idea.’
  • ‘Gimme ten minutes and I’ll be with you.’
  • ‘S’OK - I’ve gotta coupla’ things to finish too. See you in 10’.

So how much of that did you understand? If you’re used to understanding native speakers, that might have been quite easy for you. If not, let’s try to understand what was difficult.

Let’s understand ‘normal English conversation’ together

When we speak English informally, we speak differently. And there are a number of the things that we do, that make this difference. For example, we contract words, we shorten them. And we also connect them, we stick them together. We say them quickly and we miss out beginnings or ends of words. So these sentences I’ve just said to you do this in a number of places. They contract words and they make use of ‘connected speech’.

So again:-

  • ‘I’m gonna gedda coffee - d’you wanna come with me?’ More formally this would ‘I am going to get a coffee - do you want to come with me?’. Does it become clearer when I say it the second way? I think it’s much easier to understand. And the rest of that conversation, first informally and then formally - the easier one?
  • ‘I’m gonna gedda coffee - d’you wanna come with me?’ (‘I am going to get a coffee - do you want to come with me?’)
  • ‘Yeah, alright then - that’d be a good idea.’ (Formally that would be ‘Yes, alright then - that would be a good idea’)
  • ‘Gimme ten minutes and I’ll be with you.’ (‘Give me ten minutes and I will be with you’)
  • ‘S’OK - I’ve gotta coupla’ things to finish too. See you in 10’. (‘It is OK. I have got a couple of things to finish too. See you in ten minutes’).


English ‘on the street’ and in films - difficult to understand?

So it isn’t a suggestion that you must learn to speak like this yourself. Not until your English is really advanced - and then it will perhaps start to happen naturally, anyway. You don’t need to learn to speak like this - but learning to understand this type of English will open up so much more. It’s the difference between an English language lesson, where the speaker is purposefully, consciously speaking clearly and the kind of talking that you hear on the street or even worse sometimes, in films.

What do English speakers do that makes their English so hard to understand? Contractions

So let’s look at it some more. That first sentence ‘I’m gonna gedda coffee - d’you wanna come with me?’ So notice the contractions in this sentence ‘I’m’ instead of ‘I am’ and ‘d’you’ instead of ‘do you?’. There are a number of common verbs which contract like this when combined with the pronoun.

So a pronoun is ‘I’ or ‘you’ or ‘he’ or ‘it’ and you’ve got the verb - so ‘I am’ or ‘do you’ or ‘you have’. So here ‘I am’ becomes ‘I’m’ and ‘do you’ becomes ‘d’you’ and ‘you have’ becomes ‘you’ve’. So the very common verbs like ‘to be’ and ‘to have’ and ‘to do’ - all do contraction when they combine with the pronoun. So do auxiliary verbs - things like ‘I would’ becomes ‘I’d’, I’D and ‘he should have’ becomes ‘he should’ve’.

It’s worth learning these because they’re in nearly every sentence. And as if to show you that, as if to demonstrate - just listen to that last sentence. ‘It’s worth learning them’ - that’s ‘it’s’ instead of ‘it is’ and ‘because they’re in nearly every sentence’ - that’s ‘they’re’ for ‘they are’.


A photograph of a woman struggling to understand English. Let’s push our language learning skills to the next level to understand native English speakers who speak too fast.

©️ Adept English 2021

Another thing that we do all the time, and you can see this too, in this conversation, we’re a bit lazy, we shorten words and we miss bits out. So if you look again at that short conversation - there are words we say there that you wouldn’t find in the dictionary. Some speakers do this shortening much more than others, but you hear these words like ‘gonna’ and ‘gedda’ - ‘I’m gonna gedda coffee’.

That’s a short way to say ‘I am going to get a coffee’. And in the other sentence ‘Gimme ten minutes.’ GIMME. I gotta coupla things to finish’. So ‘Gimme’ is a shortened form of ‘give me’. ‘I gotta’ is short for ‘I have got to’. So shortened word forms like this - we might sometimes tell off our teenagers for using them - for their ‘sloppy speech’ perhaps. But probably we do this some of the time ourselves!

Another example ‘S’OK’ - that’s short for ‘It’s OK’. In English we use this 3rd personal singular for all kinds of things. If you talk about the weather ‘It’s raining’, ‘It’s sunny’, ‘It’s windy’ - it’s the ‘It is’ form. So we shorten it. ‘It’s’ is also used for immediate situations - so when we’re describing the way something is. So in that conversation ‘S’OK’ - ‘It’s OK’, the ‘it’s’ becomes so shortened that it’s really just an S. And we can say ‘S’fine’ or ‘S’nothing’. So it just means ‘it’s’ - ‘It’s fine’ or ‘It’s nothing’. Worth learning.

What do English speakers do that makes their English so hard to understand? Connections

Some other things we do that make our words shorter, but which are also confusing if you’re learning. In spoken English, we connect words. So this is less likely if you’ve got a consonant, a ‘hard sound’ at the end of one word and another consonant or a ‘hard sound’ at the beginning of the next word. But if there’s a vowel involved, they tend to connect.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

So look at that last sentence ‘I’ve gotta coupla’ things to finish too.’ - ‘a coupla things’ - so that means ‘a couple of things.’ So ‘couple’ which means ‘two’ or sometimes ‘a few’ is followed by ‘of’. ‘Of’ the next words starts with a vowel sound. So these two get joined together for speed.

Instead of ‘couple of’, we say ‘coupl’v’. But then in this case, the ‘v’ sound of the ‘of’, is so similar to the next sound, the ‘th’, the TH of ‘things’, it gets missed out entirely - ‘a coupla things’. This connecting of words happens all the time.

What do English speakers do that makes their English so hard to understand? Miss words out!

And the very last part of this conversation. Instead of ‘see you in ten minutes’ - ‘see you in ten’. So we like to miss things out, shorten things when we can, when the person we’re speaking to, will understand from the context.

‘Ten’ was mentioned earlier in the conversation as the number of minutes that the person estimated they’d need - and therefore when it’s mentioned again so soon - it’s understood, it’s implicit. ‘Ten’ will be the number of minutes (roughly) before we meet for coffee.

It’s been a bit different today - and it’s really aimed at the problem of why native English speaking is so hard to understand. Let us know how you did with this and whether or not you’d like more help with this specific topic. There’s a lot more to say about it - and I can give you quite a bit more practice, if you like!

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

In a minute, I’ll do that conversation again one more time, so you can test whether you understand it any more now. Don’t forget that if you would like more input, more tips, more advice on how to learn to speak English quickly - go to our website at adeptenglish.com and sign up for our free course The Seven Rules of Adept English - and start learning English more quickly today!

Listen again to a ‘real English conversation’

That conversation again?

  • ‘I’m gonna gedda coffee - d’you wanna come with me?’
  • ‘Yeah, a’right then - that’d be a good idea.’
  • ‘Gimme ten minutes and I’ll be with you.’
  • ‘S’OK - I’ve gotta coupla’ things to finish too. See you in 10’.


OK. Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.




The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
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